“…all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God….” Deuteronomy 28:2 (NRSV)
When I was a young man I made an observation as I hung out with my friends. I watched as my friends made snarky retorts to their parents and the argumentative escalation that inevitably occurred and usually ended with some sort of punishment. I would see the willful choices others would make to do what they knew was wrong, and the trouble that it eventually afforded them. I was not a perfect kid, and I did my share of stupid things, but more often than not I realized that there was a peace in life that came with simply doing the right thing.
As I read the chapter this morning I was struck by the list of blessings that were promised to God’s people if they would obey His commands. While some of these blessings are divine in nature, there are many blessings on that list which are simply the natural consequences of consistently choosing to do what you know is right in life and relationship.
Life is both crazy and stressful. The journey is hard. I can make it more difficult with poor choices in the way I live, act, think, speak, and relate to others. I can also assure myself a certain level of peace by choosing daily to live, act, think, speak, and relate to others in a way that is good and right.
The day lies before me with a million choices to be made of thought, word, and action. How I choose in each moment will make a huge difference in how this day ends, in stress or peace.
And you’ll end up cannibalizing your own sons and daughters that God, your God, has given you. When the suffering from the siege gets extreme, you’re going to eat your own babies. The most gentle and caring man among you will turn hard, his eye evil, against his own brother, his cherished wife, and even the rest of his children who are still alive, refusing to share with them a scrap of meat from the cannibal child-stew he is eating. He’s lost everything, even his humanity, in the suffering of the siege that your enemy mounts against your fortified towns. Deuteronomy 28:53-55 (MSG)
Things like cannibalism tend to stand out in today’s culture. Perhaps that’s why this passage stood out in today’s chapter. We can’t fathom an act so inhuman and grotesque. Yet, for the people following Moses, the idea was not foreign. Child sacrifice was common among the religions of the region and the seige warfare described in today’s chapter had become common in Moses time as more and more cities created walls to protect themselves from invaders.
What is very scary to me about today’s chapter is the way it perfectly describes the events witnessed and recorded by Jeremiah both in the book of Jeremiah and in the book of Lamentations, where the prophet records in verse what he witnesses in the seige of Jerusalem by the Babylonians:
“Look at us, God. Think it over. Have you ever treated anyone like this? Should women eat their own babies, the very children they raised?”
The very things that Moses warned were the very things that happened, cannibalism and all. Today I am reminded that these chapters I read are not just from any book; They are part of God’s Message and God’s story from the beginning to the end of all that we know. What Moses predicted came to pass in the days of Jeremiah, what Jeremiah predicted came to pass in the person of Jesus, what Jesus predicted….